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Chai by GubraithianFire
Chapter 5 : The Plus One
 
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Author's Note: Hi, guys! *waves excitedly* It's so good to be back! My vacation gave me a lot to think about, since it (of course) was a family getaway. But I won't say anything else about that :P

Since this is obviously a fic very influenced by the culture it portrays, I'm going to be using a lot more Hindi words, and I know not all of you know what they mean. Therefore, I TRIED to put footnotes in the text, but it doesn't work. Ugh. So, if there's anything you don't understand, the explanations will be at the bottom of the page. And for my Hindi speakers, please forgive my vague explanations and crappy phonetic writing; my Hindi is pretty bad so *clears throat* I'll leave that at that.

Anyway - I also noticed that Chai has been nominated in the Dobby Awards this year. *blush* Thank you, guys! That's one of the greatest honors... ever. Thank you so much, everyone. You made my life with that.

And, since I know you more than likely have skipped over this monstrosity of a note, I'll give you your virtual cookies and let you go on when you're supposed to ^_^

-Gubby




Chai
The Plus One


Harry Potter, Ginny Weasley’s ex, is my date to my twin sister’s wedding to my true love.

Oh, my freaking God.

When I tell my mother the entire story – the catching him at Burger King (no, that’s not at all original when it comes to Muggle fast food), forcing him to clarify his answers, and more or less begging him to come to all the pain-in-the-ass functions Indian weddings entail – she cackles with delight. Yes, she cackles.

“Jannu!” she shrieks, giving me a really unnecessary hug. “The Hari Putter–”

Harry Potter, Mum,” I correct her exasperatedly. Indian accents are murder to Anglo-Saxon names. “Say it with me.”

Padma wanders in. She has no direction anywhere, especially not in life, but even she can tell something momentous has occurred. “What’s up, Parvati?” she inquires brightly, but she’s seething.

I know she’s already heard what I’ve done, but I say it again for my own smug benefit: “Harry’s my plus one.”

There is a lull in the Patil kitchen as Padma contemplates her response. Should she be stunningly jealous or unnaturally ecstatic for my so-called good fortune? I obviously prefer the former, but – even more obvious – she chooses the latter. “Oh my gosh! Parvati!” she squeals and tramples me with an emotionally deprived hug. Any onlooker who is not my mother will think she’s strangling me. I think she is. “Congratulations!”

I don’t bother thanking her. We all know she doesn’t mean it.

“How did you manage it?” Mum leaps at me, demanding information we also all know is none of her business. “He’s Hari Putter!”

“Is he?” I ask shrewdly. “I thought he was Aberforth Dumbledore! He can’t be Harry Potter!”

“Parvati, really,” Padma sniffs, “don’t talk like that to Mum.”

“I won’t if you won’t.”

Bhagwan ke liye!” exclaims Mum. “Can’t you girls ever be nice to one another?”

Padma and I exchange swift, probing glances. We both wonder the same thing mostly all the time. I’ve since come to the conclusion that we can certainly pretend, and pretend well. I mean, she’s a public figure, and I’m a gossip columnist. Lying isn’t just in the job description, it is the job (and thus, must be in the job description).

Not my fault that my own father warns people about me. It’s not like I’m dangerous or anything. I’m just morbidly curious about most everything.

“Not really,” my twin and I chorus, wearing identical grimaces of rivalry. My dad might mistake it for bloodlust, but it really isn’t. Just rivalry.

Mum sighs. “You know, Sandhya Khala and I never fought.”

“Sandhya Khala was seven when you got married,” Padma reminds her. Ah, the intricacies involving an Indian family. My mum and her sister are sixteen years apart. Their relationship has been just peachy since the beginning. Except for the fact that my aunt is convinced that Mum left her at such a “tender, needing age” just to get the hell away from her.

I wouldn’t blame Mum. Seven-year-olds are freaky. Most children are, but seven-year-olds are generally smart. On occasion, they’re smarter than me.

“I should never have had twins,” Mum laments mournfully, and I roll my eyes.

“Oh, come on,” I assure her bracingly. “If we hadn’t driven you off the wall, they would have wanted more kids from you.” Mum flinches at the mention of them.

“We’re a gift from God anyway,” Padma finishes, complete with a self-satisfied nod of the head. I echo her, just to add the really creepy mirror image thing that got so many people scared of us in our youth.

We’re gifts from God. I know Padma is, since she’s the angel who had the sense to not befriend Pansy Parkinson when we were eight and neighbors. I’m the idiot who Pansy gleefully betrayed when school came along. Padma’s the one who can keep her mouth shut and smile on. I’m the one who has been bodily levitated from public events after calling the host a wide variety of expletives, both English and Hindi. Padma’s the twin marrying Roger Davies. I’m the twin with Harry Potter as the plus one to that wedding.

Guess who wins on the awesomeness scale.

Pity Roger isn’t here to revel in my good fortune.

Choosing that shallow bitch over this one? Hah. He’ll live to regret it.

However, whenever he comes crawling to me, begging for forgiveness, I will of course give it to him.

I love him, remember?

I thought so.




I’ve never noticed before, but Romilda Vane’s voice is actually quite pleasant. Like that strange hybrid of classical and jazz music they play in office building lifts. It gets on your nerves and is on much too much for the sanity of all occupants of said lift, but it would be so strange without hearing it Every. Single. Day. Because, let’s face it, humans need some semblance of structure, myself included. No one has to know how inhuman I really am, of course.

Yes, I’d rather sit through Romilda’s chattering than in twenty minutes of straight silence with him.

I never have been, you see. Alone with Harry, I mean: never at school and not in our adult lives, either. There’s always someone else, an accidental witness (or accidentally-on-purpose) watching, and always some spell to practice, some lies to spread… some dangerous criminal to corner in a warehouse at the banks of the Thames before he attempts to murder the Prime Minister…

So when Harry rushes out of the Wendy’s he had just effectively commandeered specifically for our privacy – when we’ve spent the aforementioned twenty minutes sitting at our booth – I’m unduly relieved. Sure, I have a reason to be relieved. But the bloke is my plus one. Not a date, because it’s just to a wedding, and wedding dates mean nothing. I asked him to accompany to my sister’s wedding, and he agreed.

And that’s all there is.

If only Romilda Vane believed that.

“Parvati,” she murmurs, almost concerned for my social well being, “you know Harry’s… he’s… Harry Potter!” she finishes. Whatever nerve she had been possessed by to actually talk about her schoolgirl crush has failed. She’s silent, staring into her tea like it’s hypnotizing her. I’m not surprised. I used to think tea was way awesome, with the tea-leaf-reading-thingy Trelawney taught.

Then I tasted it.

Vomit-inducing.

“He’s Harry Potter?” I echo, leaning back with the second of infinite mugs of Kona coffee. I inhale the aroma with what others might call desperation. I call it bliss. “How much do you think we could make with that story next week?” I pretend to ponder the would-be enormous sum. “Just think of it! Harry Potter is secretly – Harry Potter!

“Not that!” Romilda whines. “It’s just… look, he thinks of you as a friend. Maybe less. But not more.”

“Oh, that’s reassuring,” I exhale, rolling my eyes. My plus one is secretly a friend. Maybe less.

“I don’t think you get it, Parvati,” she continues, eyes ablaze with newfound determination to complete her quest. Though what that is, I can’t say.

“Me neither.”

“He’s making–”

“Ginny jealous?” I graciously finish her sentence, since its obviously really painful to talk about him. “No, duh. He and Ginny are soul mates, for Merlin’s sake!” Romilda cringes at the term, but I grin half-wickedly over the rim of my mug. “Of course he’s not the least bit interested in me!”

“But… but I thought you liked him?”

“Not really,” I correct. “And it was ten years ago.” I smile again, more malicious this time. “We’ve all grown out of our crushes from back then, Vane.”

Her grimace is as if someone has slashed a knife across her face, but who cares? I feel guilty about taking such an obvious jab at her, sure. But not quite.

Dad has always said that the most dangerous people are the ones who think that by cleansing a race or whatever is actually good. I disagree. It’s worse when someone knows exactly how evil he or she is and continues whatever it is they’re doing anyway.

That’s what I do, after all. Does that make me an up and coming Dark Lady bent on world domination and/or killing millions to purify the wizarding race?

I suppose the fact that I’m willing to happily kill anyone who gets in my way of winning Roger is quite telling. I make a mental note to keep that from Harry Auror-Extraordinaire Potter. It wouldn’t do to be arrested by my ex-childhood-crush-turned-plus-one.

Then again, how can he arrest someone who hasn’t committed any (publicly acknowledged) crime yet? He can’t, I decide, which reminds me to throw the aforementioned mental note into the rubbish bin.

He can’t act unless – or maybe even until – I kill someone.

And since Roger’s fiancée is still alive, I guess I’m innocent.

If only she weren’t my blood.

Then I wouldn’t be so freaked to spill it.




Author's Note:

1. Bhagwan ke liye! For God's sake!
2. Khala one of many ways to say Aunt; this one is mother's sister.



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